I pressed Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government James Brokenshire to boost local funding after new figures showed Liverpool has been hardest hit by Tory cuts to council budgets.
The Centre for Cities Outlook 2019 report showed a shocking cut equivalent to £816 per head since 2009-10, compared to a Britain-wide average of £287 per head. By way of comparison, Oxford has had a £115 increase in council spending per head in the same period.
In fact, all five of the hardest hit cities are in the North of England. Northern cities have seen an average of 20 per cent cuts compared to an average of 9 per cent for the South West, East and South East, excluding London.
The response on the Tory benches was to grimace and gurn when I explained the impact of government cuts on rising poverty across the North. The Secretary of State simply refused to engage with the question at all.
Liverpool’s Labour council has worked hard to focus spending on the neediest, including vulnerable children, the homeless and social care for adults. That means that cuts have been felt elsewhere – spending on public conveniences such as toilets in the city has fallen by 98 per cent over the past decade, spending on bringing tourism to the city down 67 per cent and arts development and support by 57 per cent.
We can all see the difference on our streets and in our communities as cuts to council spending accompany police spending cuts and public health spending cuts too.
The government is due to carry out a major spending review later this year – and I called on the Secretary of State to take the opportunity to take the pressure off our city and support its people to rebuild.
As the Centre for Cities Outlook 2019 explained: ‘Fair funding must mean more funding for Liverpool.’